We went into Easter with several playoff seedings still up for grabs, and what should have been one of the most exciting days of the NBA season turned into a slop-fest of tanking, scrubs having career games, and literal physical infighting.
Bones Hyland tried to fight Mason Plumlee.
Rudy Gobert tried to fight Kyle Anderson.
And Jaden McDaniels lost a fight to a wall.
Not exactly great vibes for the Clippers and the Timberwolves heading into the Western Conference playoffs.
Let’s get into some of these hilarious stat lines from game 82:
• Six point-per-game scorer Payton Pritchard having a 30-point triple-double
• 20-9-9 for Mac McClung, who struggled to even stay on a roster this year
• 46 for Cam Thomas, and yes I know he’s been going off since the Nets shipped Kyrie out, but FORTY SIX?
• 24 for Udonis Haslem, who broke Kareem’s 30+ year old record for oldest player to score 20
• 21 and 19 for Dominick Barlow. Who is Dominick Barlow?
• A triple-double for Theo Pinson, whose career averages are 2-1-1.
• 42 and 14 for Kenneth Lofton Jr, whose previous career high was 11.
• You had a Triple-double for Tre Mann, who has never had double figured in anything except points.
But none of those stats were as disgusting as the Dallas Mavericks being down to the Spurs 42-14 after one quarter, just two days after the order came down from on high for Jason Kidd to bench Luka and Kyrie and tank for a lottery pick when the team still had a shot at the Western Conference play-in.
I don’t necessarily think the Mavs did the wrong thing by quitting. They were 10-18 after the Kyrie trade and clearly don’t have the defensive skill to compete. But I also don’t think quitters deserve a lottery pick, and the Mavs are putting all their eggs in the basket of their draft pick being in the top 10 so they don’t lose it to the Knicks.
They aren’t guaranteed to get Kyrie back, and he skipped his exit interview with the team ahead of free agency. This draft pick is a Hail Mary at improving the team enough to keep Luka Doncic from forcing his way out.
But let’s talk about Luka, who has been marketed as the heir apparent to LeBron James when the King finally cedes his throne.
I know it wasn’t Luka’s choice to give up, but the Mavericks are only in a position to give up because two top-10 talents, Luka and Kyrie, weren’t enough to be mediocre, much less good.
If I’m Luka, and I care about my legacy and positioning as the man who will carry the NBA- why waste any time? If the Mavericks don’t luck into a top 3 pick, just force your way out now. You know next year’s Mavs are going to be fighting for a play-in spot all over again.
Especially when next year, all the NBA’s best players are going to put more emphasis on the regular season so they meet the 65-game minumum threshold to qualify for postseason awards. The unserious teams that floated around .500 this year are going to be next year’s trampolines- getting jumped allnover by everyone that’s actually any good.
And maybe that 65-game threshold is exaclty what’s needed to make sure that days like Aprile 9th, 2023 never happen again. When guys that typically struggle to get 40 minutes played in one month are getting 40 minutes in one game.
Let that sink in